Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Draft Paul Keating Now!

"In May 1991, [Bob] Hawke was presented with the Shield of Jerusalem award on behalf of Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek and the World Zionist Organization. However, his press office discouraged media coverage of the ceremony, possibly because Hawke was increasingly under threat within his own party where some crucial supporters disapproved of his long-term ties to Israel and the Jewish people. In December 1991, Hawke was deposed in a party room ballot by his treasurer Paul Keating. In contrast to Hawke, Keating had no record of emotional attachment to Israel. He had little history of contact with the Australian Jewish community before becoming treasurer. When he had spoken to Jewish-community groups he had sometimes raised ire, as in 1990 when he insisted that Australia opposed any Israeli settling in East Jerusalem as well as the territories." (A Distant Affinity: The History of Australian-Israeli Relations, Colin Rubenstein & Tzvi Fleischer, Jewish Political Studies Review, Fall 2007)

I watched Judgement Day on the ABC's Four Corners on Monday night. It was about former Labor Prime Minister (1991-1996) Paul Keating's epic struggle to translate the High Court's Mabo ruling (which  replaced  the common law principle of terra nullius - that Australia was essentially unoccupied when white settlers arrived here in 1788 - with native title) into legislation.

What impressive leadership Keating showed. Not only did he display an understanding of Aboriginal dispossession, but he was prepared to take on vested state, mining and pastoral interests, and majority redneck opinion, to get native title legislation through federal parliament. In short, the man was a complete contrast to the conga-line of suckholes, opportunists, hacks and drones to follow.

Here, for example, is Keating in action on talkback radio:

(Excerpt from Radio 2UE, 1993)

Caller II: Good morning.

John Laws: Okay, the Prime Minister is here.

Caller II: Yes, good morning. Just a very broad question, Mr Keating, is, why does your government see the Aboriginal people as a much more equal people than the average White Australian?

Paul Keating: We don't. We see them as equal.

Caller II: Well, you might say that, but all the indications are that you don't.

Paul Keating: But what's implied in your question is that you don't; you think that non-Aboriginal Australians, there ought to be discrimination in their favour against blacks.

Caller II: Not... whatsoever. I... I don't say that at all. But my... myself and every person I talk to - and I'm not racist - but every person I talk to...

Paul Keating: But that's what they all say, don't they? They put these questions - they always say, 'I'm not racist, but, you know, I don't believe that Aboriginal Australians ought to have a basis in equality with non-Aboriginal Australians'. Well, of course, that's part of the problem.

Caller II: Aren't they more equal than us at the moment?, with the preferences they get?

Paul Keating: More equal? They were... I mean, it's not for me to be giving you a history lesson - they were largely dispossessed of the land they held.

Caller II: There's a question over that. I think a lot of people will tell you that. You're telling us one thing...

Paul Keating: Well, if you're sitting on the title of any block of land in NSW, you can bet an Aboriginal person at some stage was dispossessed of it.

Caller II: You know that for sure, do you?

Paul Keating: Of course we know it for sure!

Caller II: Yeah, [inaudible].

Paul Keating: You're challenging the High Court decision, are you? You're saying the High Court got this all wrong.

Caller II: No, I'm not saying that at all! I wouldn't know who was on the High Court.

Paul Keating: Well, why don't you sign off if you don't know anything about it and you're not interested? Good bye!

Caller II: Yeah, well, that's your...

Paul Keating: No, I mean, you can't challenge these things and then say, 'I don't know about them'.

John Laws: Oh well, he's gone.

(End of excerpt)

Sure beats the hell out of Gillard's 'Well, that's an interesting question and I thank you for it'.

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